Indigenous Leaders in Canada Jailed for Resisting Mining Interests

Please do what you can – www.freeki6.ca <http://www.freeki6.ca/>
 
Indigenous leaders jailed for standing strong to protect their homelands
from mining..
 
On March 18th, 2008 five community leaders, including Chief Donny Morris
from Kitchenumahkoosib Inninuwug (KI) were jailed for six months for
contempt of a court injunction which prohibits them from interfering
with a mineral exploration program by Canadian-owned Platinex Inc. The
community is gravely concerned about the possible impact to their land
and water where they have lived in the Boreal forest for over 5,000
years.
 
It has been over a month and these leaders (one of whom is a
grandmother) have still not been released. 
 
Please do what you can – sign the online petition and send an email to
the Canadian Premier.  www.freeki6.ca <http://www.freeki6.ca/>

From Friends of the Lubicon – write your own letter to the jailed
indigenous leaders in Canada today.
 
—–Original Message—–
From: fol-bounces@masses.tao.ca [mailto:fol-bounces@masses.tao.ca] On
Behalf Of fol@masses.tao.ca
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2008 8:16 AM
To:
 
Friends of the Lubicon
P.O. Box 444, Stn. D,
Etobicoke, ON 
Canada, M9A 4X4
Tel: 416-763-7500
Email: fol@tao.ca
Web: www.lubicon.ca
 
April 17, 2008
 
Yesterday Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak wrote to the Chief and Council
of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation at the prison in
which they are being held. His letter is reproduced below.
 
On March 17, 2008, an Ontario Superior Court judge sentenced 6
Aboriginal protesters to six months of jail for peacefully defying a
court order that would allow Platinex, a mining-exploration company, to
drill for minerals on their traditional lands in northern Ontario,
Canada. The Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation fears that
mining activity will jeopardize hunting and burial grounds and argues
that the Ontario government awarded the mining permits without
consulting and accommodating their people, a violation of aboriginal
rights and Canadian law.
 
The individuals jailed include the Chief and four Councilors of the (KI)
First Nation.
KI First Nation continues to recognize its Chief and Councilors as
leaders in exile and as prisoners of conscience. It has also declared
that a 2001 community declared moratorium on exploration and development
will continue to be enforced in KI traditional territory, pending
resolution of a treaty land entitlement claim and fulfillment of the
Government of Ontario’s legal obligation to consult and accommodate.
We are encouraging Lubicon supporters to also lend their support to the
KI First Nation and its leaders. More information on how you can help is
included below Chief Ominayak’s letter.
 
* * * * * * *
 
April 16, 2008
 
Chief Donny Morris
Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation
C/O Thunder Bay Correctional Centre
Highway 61 South
PO Box 1900
Thunder Bay ON
P7C 4Y4
 
Dear Chief Morris;
 
We have been following closely the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First
Nation’s efforts to protect your land from the onset of mineral
exploitation, both in the courts and on the ground.
 
When Platinex took your Nation to Court for opposing their proposed
exploratory drilling project, we asked our supporters to join in
protesting this attempt to use the courts to silence your leaders and
lay claim to your lands, because we saw parallels with our own peoples’
struggle to survive and the attempted use of the courts to keep us quiet
while they stole everything of value from our lands.
 
When the Court told Platinex to meet with your Nation to determine how
mineral exploration should be allowed to proceed, lawyers across the
country trumpeted the decision as a victory for aboriginal rights
because it demonstrated that consultation is a requirement under
Canadian law. We knew, as I’m sure you did too, that this was not a real
victory for our people, because we knew from our own hard experience
that having the right to be consulted is not the same as having the
right to say no. And we knew from our own hard experience that without
the right to refuse a project that will destroy our lands and damage our
communities, we will be unable to meet our responsibility to protect our
lands and people.
 
When the company later returned to Court – aided and abetted by the
provincial government and its lawyers – to argue that it should be
allowed to proceed because it had already met the “duty to consult”, it
was no surprise to us or to you that the Courts agreed, and instructed
your people to stay out of their way.
 
When you and your Council stood in the way of Platinex regardless of
what the Courts and the provincial government said, we took heart that
there are leaders like yourselves who are willing to stand up and
demonstrate that we, as aboriginal people, will not sit idly by while
outside governments and companies destroy everything we value – the
land, the air, the water, and our way of life.
 
When you were offered the chance to apologize and accept the
exploitation of your lands in exchange for your freedom, we took heart
that, as real leaders, you and your Council refused. And now this letter
finds you in jail, where they hope to destroy your spirit and that of
your community by taking you away from your people and your land, and
threatening others that they will face the same fate if they don’t allow
Platinex to proceed.
 
If there were any way to turn back the clock and stop the very first oil
and gas companies from entering our lands – before the hundreds that
followed made it all but impossible to reverse the environmental
destruction they brought to our lands – I believe our people would
gladly do so. For that reason, I’m sending this message now to encourage
you and express our support for the principled stand you are taking, so
that the lands of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation don’t
have to suffer the same fate our lands suffered after the first resource
exploitation companies opened the door for the many that followed.
 
We hope you keep close to your families, your people and your lands in
spirit, despite being taken away to a remote jail, and that you continue
the struggle from inside with the same devotion and courage you have
shown so far. There may be many forces allied against us as aboriginal
people, and those who want to take everything from the land have a great
deal of power and influence, but there are some things they can never
take away from us. One of those is our spirit, our courage, and our
determination to carry out our responsibility to protect the lands the
Creator gave to us.
 
Sincerely,
 
Bernard Ominayak
Chief, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
 
cc       
            Deputy Chief Jack McKay
Councillor Samuel McKay
Councillor Darryl Sainnawap
Bruce Sakakeep, Lands & Environment Director
Head Councillor Cecilia Begg
 
* * * * * * *
 
Take action
 
Please write to the Premier of Ontario, demanding the release of the
jailed First Nation Chief and Councilors and a halt to mining
exploration in KI First Nation lands.
 
Write letters to the Premier of Ontario:
 
Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto ON
M7A 1A1
dmcguinty.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Sample letter
 
Dear Premier McGuinty;
 
I am writing regarding the incarceration of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug
(KI) First Nation Chief Donny Morris, Council members Samuel McKay, Jack
McKay, Darryl Sainnawap Cecilia Begg, and community member Bruce
Sakakeep.
 
They have recently been convicted of civil contempt charges and jailed
for 6 months for peacefully opposing mineral exploration on their
traditional territory.
 
I understand that Ontario continues to grant exploration permits to
mining companies without fulfilling its legal obligation to consult with
and accommodate Aboriginal peoples. It is disgraceful that these six
people are serving time for upholding their community’s rights while
Ontario continues to flout the law.
 
I ask that the Province change its antiquated Mining Act to ensure real
consultation and accommodation of aboriginal rights before granting
mineral leases. I also ask that the Ontario Government take action to
release the six KI First Nation prisoners of conscience currently being
punished for protecting their lands and community.
 
Sincerely,
 

 
Please also write letters of support to the jailed leaders
 
Here are the names and addresses where you can send individual letters
of solidarity and encouragement:

Chief Donny Morris
Deputy Chief Jack McKay
Councillor Samuel McKay
Councillor Darryl Sainnawap
Bruce Sakakeep, Lands & Environment Director

C/O Thunder Bay Correctional Centre
Highway 61 South
PO Box 1900
Thunder Bay ON   P7C 4Y4

 
Head Councillor Cecilia Begg
c/o Kenora Jail
1430 River St.
Kenora  ON   P9N 1K5
More information
 
http://kitchenuhmaykoosib.com/
 
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